Epic light and changeable weather

Wey Navigation
The last couple of days have been really foul here – loads more rain that our already saturated landscape really didn’t need, and unremitting grey skies. But on Tuesday, as the weather front rolled slowly in over the Surrey countryside, Jen and I were treated to some seriously epic skies.
Surrey landscape
Fortuitously, we had chosen for our weekly photoshoot the Wey Navigation towpath between Cartbridge and Triggs Lock. The Navigation is bounded here by water meadows, open spaces and big skies. We were like the proverbial children in the sweet shop (kids in a candy store in American!). It will take me a while to get through all the images I made but here are the first few out of the digital darkroom. Little editing required thanks to my circ. polariser and ND grad. filters. Colours as they appeared on the day.
Weather front

Of barges, trains and automobiles

Railway in Surrey
Recently I have started to retrace my steps along the Wey Navigation towpath with a view to getting some more up to date pictures for a possible book project.  Most of the Navigation runs through pretty countryside but there is one spot, between New Haw and Pyrford, where it runs close to, and is indeed crossed by, the M25, Britain’s busiest motorway.  It is not the most picturesque of landscapes but still full of interest for the photographer.  I enjoy the challenge of trying to make images here.
The M25 crosses the Wey
Although not conventionally beautiful, this is a very significant spot in the history of transport.  Here, within a few paces of its passage under the motorway, the Wey Navigation meets the Basingstoke Canal. The Navigation is not a canal strictly speaking but a river made navigable, and it predates the canal age by some hundred years.  Thus the Basingstoke Canal (opened in 1793) represents a later evolution of British transport, although it was never as successful as the Navigation and fell into disuse first. A sign here points to Thames Lock (3 miles), Guildford and Godalming (12 miles) and Greywell Tunnel (31 miles via the Basingstoke Canal).
The M25 and the Wey Navigation near New Haw
Immediately after its junction with the canal, the Navigation passes under a bridge that carries the main London to Southampton railway line (1838).  The railways of course were a further development and largely responsible for supplanting the canals as the principal means of goods transport.
Railway in Surrey
Railway in Surrey
Then there’s the motorway, the next stage in the development of transport.  An iron footbridge next to the railway bridge adds a further layer, albeit rather older and more environmentally sound!
railway in surrey
I have had a few funny looks from people during my visits here, and on a couple of occasions people have stopped to ask me what on earth I am photographing.  Yet, rather amusingly, I am clearly not the first photog to see potential in this location, although I don’t think I would ever go to such lengths to advertise my Flickr photo stream!

railway Surrey

Some people will do anything to get people to look at their photos

In some of my shots I have tried for a desaturated, moody look, to suit the industrial feel of the place.
Railway in Surrey
But sometimes I just can’t resist going for colour.  When the late afternoon sun peeps under the motorway, it almost looks pretty.
Railway in Surrey
The next shot does not properly belong here as I took it at Weybridge Station, while waiting to meet my daughter.  But it was taken on the same afternoon as some of the earlier pictures, just a few minutes later, and it has got a train in it…
Weybridge Train Station
Of all the photographs I have taken here so far, strangely my favourite has no train.  I like the simplicity of the brick bridge against the sky. It seemed to demand a contrasty black and white conversion.

Black and white railway bridge

ISO 50, 16mm, f/16, 11″
ND .6 Hard Grad, Circ. Polariser, .9 Pro-glass

Messing about in boats

Weybridge
Still on an Autumn tack, I thought I’d share some seasonal shots of the different craft that can be found along the Wey Navigation in Weybridge.
Wey Navigation
Situated on the confluence of the Thames and the Wey, and with the Wey Navigation running through it as well, Weybridge has a lot of watercraft, of all shapes and sizes.
Wey Navigation
I am mostly content to admire them from the towpath, however.
WeybridgeOf course, there could only ever be one quotation for this post:

Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.
– Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows (1908)

Still Autumn, just…

Weybridge

f/11, 1/25, ISO 100, 16mm, circ. polariser

There is a heavy hint of change in the air.  The trees no longer bask in full Autumn glory. Instead, their leaves billow under the wheels of passing vehicles.  Twice this week my day has begun with scraping frost from car windows.  Staying out to photograph the sunset, my hands and feet became numb from the cold.

Weybridge

f/11, 1/15, ISO100, 16mm, circ. polariser

Perhaps in sympathy, it’s been all change in my digital life this week.  I have finally downloaded Photoshop Creative Cloud and Lightroom 5.  For photographers there’s a special subscription deal for just under £9 a month.  That’s a huge discount, but hurry, it ends on 2nd December. It will take me a while to get to grips with Lightroom as I haven’t used it before but PS CC seems fairly intuitive, not too much of a leap from CS4.

One of the things that’s much improved from CS4 is the HDR facility.  The image below is my first attempt.  Just three exposures blended by PS CC.  It’s certainly light years ahead of what CS4 would have produced but I’m still not sure about it.  I had to tweak a lot to get it to look even vaguely natural.  Perhaps it’s a good thing I have ordered some ND graduated filters so I can do it in camera instead!

Weybridge

f/16, 1/6, ISO 100, 16mm, circ. polariser

Just to make life even harder, I also upgraded my iMac operating system from Snow Leopard to Mavericks.  It seems mostly familiar but for some inexplicable reason I now have to scroll in the opposite direction.  Mighty confusing!  There’s probably a setting I need to tick somewhere.  (Scratches head bemusedly.)  

And, just to add to it all, I have finally given up on Redbubble and am working on creating a new website with Photium.  More on that soon.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these further images from my walk last week along the Wey Navigation towpath.

Autumn Falls

Weybridge

 

Last week I shared a picture of Coulson’s Weir on the Wey Navigation, Weybridge.  This is another shot of the same place, taken on the same day but a couple of hours later.  The light has become warmer and a cluster of oak leaves has fallen giving me some seasonal foreground. In fact, I like this one better than the first shot.  I think the person on the bridge helps the composition, although I know a few very good landscapers who absolutely hate seeing people in their shots.  I suppose this is not exactly a wild place and so a bit of human interest seems fitting. Which image do you prefer?  And what are your views on figures in landscapes?

I realise I have been wittering on about the Wey Navigation recently but haven’t really explained what it is.  I did a few posts about it last year, but that is a long time ago in blog-land!  A longer post on the Navigation is in the pipeline, plus one on technique, and one on selling your images online. But first my incredibly slow internet has to finish downloading OS X Mavericks.  So far, 8 hours and not even close to the middle of the progress bar!  Rant over.

The wonderful Wey

Weybridge

Two more shots from my stroll along my local stretch of the Wey Navigation in Weybridge.  The top one is a panorama, stitched from five separate vertical images to make a big 11000 by 7000 (approx) pixel file, which will make a mighty print, if I ever print it.  The lower image is the same viewpoint as my moonrise shot last month.

Weybridge

 

I am now writing for a local website once a week and the second shot featured in my article last week.